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Old 10-18-2015, 11:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Shelob the large hermit crab

Okay so...I misbehaved tonight. I feel bad because I swore up & down I was never going to buy from pet stores. Never say never...sigh. I still feel guilty (especially because hermit crabs are ALL wild caught, no matter what the supplier or store tells you), but I'm also really happy because my new girl is really happy and I'm already in love.

On the plus side, the pet store's conditions were great, the best I've seen from a pet store in this area! A couple inches deep of Eco Earth, very damp, two water dishes (so I'm guessing one was fresh, one salt), they were given fresh food (lettuce & not sure what else - the store carries Repashy's crab food, so maybe that?), and they were all in natural shells. The only thing off was no source of heat, but this pet store had a fire a few months ago & they're currently in a different, smaller location, and still trying to get things reorganized & set up. I mentioned the heat thing to the employee as I was checking out & she was very nice about it & said they're working on rearranging reptile set ups. I was also thrilled because they had their betta fish each in 1/2 gallon bowls - a very nice change from the tiny cups that Petsmart & Petco keep them in! The water was very clean & all of the fish looked healthy & active. I may be getting a betta fish from them if I don't get one from rescue via Craigslist.

So anyway, enough about the store! Meet Shelob, a beautiful large girl.

In her travel container when we first got home



She's starting to come out in this picture, but it still shows how small her shell was - she could fit her head in, but half to three quarters of her legs couldn't fit in. That, along with her clearly needing to molt soon, was what spurred me to buy her.



Hello, beautiful girl!



I can't wait to see what her colors look like after she gets a chance to molt. She's kind of mottled lavender, pink, and red right now.



I was rather nervous after she came out in the travel container & was trying to escape - I underestimated how large she was!! I only have three crabbies (two are small, one medium), but I only have a 40B tank right now, with 7-8" of substrate, so I was getting worried about having deep enough substrate for her. Luckily, she looks like she's a large, so it should be just perfect for now! I'm hoping to move them into a 55 gallon tank when we move in December, which will be their new home for quite a while, so I won't have to move them again anytime soon. My other three have had a hard time with how much moving they've had to do with me since I got them. Not ideal.



First introduction to her new home. Her antennae went nuts at first & she also dug at the sand a little like she was relishing the feel of it.



She started to walk around and the first new shell she ran into (I'd rinsed all of my large shells off, put a little salt water in them, and placed them hole up on the substrate for her) was my largest Babylonia. She immediately checked it out & rotated it several times for 5-6 minutes, then moved over right in front of me! Very cool!







After I took that last picture, I set her back down in the middle of three large turbos. She froze for a second as if she was in disbelief - "What. More...more shells?? All of them free? Really??" There's a severe shell shortage in the wild, so this very well could've been the most empty, suitable shells she's seen in a long time, possibly ever! (Please don't buy shells for decorations! We only like them because they're pretty, but animals need them for survival. Shells from the beach should stay at the beach. People also frequently bring home crabs by accident because they don't realize the shells they picked up had inhabitants. Those crabs are typically marine hermit crabs & almost always die before the humans can do anything to get them back into proper conditions.)



She immediately started checking out the one on the left & hopped into it barely a minute later. Such a happy crab!! Final picture for tonight.



I turned the tank light off to leave her be for the rest of the night now. Last I checked, she was chilling underneath the flower/leaf dish. Hoping she'll eat some food before she decides to burrow down for destressing/molting! But we'll see. She still has lots of shell choices if she wants to keep trying on some new clothes. I'm so happy she changed so quickly!
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What a cutie! She seems happy to be home with you .
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Old 10-19-2015, 03:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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She's adorable! I love hermit crabs. Is it too hard to breed them in captivity?

I remember being a child and catching tiny hermit crabs on the beaches in Crete (Greece), they are such interesting little animals (of course I'd let them go!)
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks guys! I can't find her anywhere this morning and I'm wondering if she's hiding especially well or if she already dug down. Wouldn't be surprised if she did, either for destressing or molting or both. The molt is badly needed, one of her leg tips is broken, and she doesn't have much nail left at the end of any of her legs, and very little hair either. When they're freshly molted, their legs are covered in hairs and they have very sharp black nails on the tips of each leg. But they can't molt in pet store settings & typically they've been in transport & storage, etc. before getting to the store, so it's usually been a long time since they've molted. And she was probably avoiding doing it anyway with how tiny her shell was. But if they go too long without molting, that kills them too.

She seems to have a good personality so far, she hasn't tried at all to pinch me & wasn't too willing to be startled back into the Babylonia shell when I was trying to see how well she fit in it. I moved too quickly & she went in for half a second, then popped right back out and wouldn't go back in. I've heard a lot that the larger crabs tend to be less skittish & less likely to pinch, but this is the first I've experienced it. Boromir wasn't as skittish as the littles, but still not as easy going as this girl. Still, it might be due to the stress of what's all going on, and they can also change personality after molts (and they're usually more skittish after a molt anyway), so we'll see. Fingers crossed that she just makes it through her first molt, I don't mind if her personality changes as long as she survives. The first molt in a new home is always the most dangerous (possibility of death by other crabs or death from Post-Purchase Syndrome, which is basically that they've been stressed so much they can't recover from it).

Yeah, it's nearly impossible to breed them in captivity. Tank conditions have to be perfect for them to show mating behavior. When that happens, the males will fight over preferred females by shoving & trying to guard the female for themselves. After mating, the female will lay eggs & carry them in her shell for a while as they develop. Sometimes things go wrong there - the female might eat the eggs, or sometimes she dumps them out on the sand rather than getting them into the salt water. Once the eggs are deposited in the salt water, you have to catch them very quickly before they hatch so you can move the babies into the proper set up for them. They need very clean water (can't recall if it has to continuously move or not) and you need to make sure it stays aerated. They also need food small enough to eat during their aquatic phase, though I can't recall what's usually used.

They tend to die in large numbers as they continue maturing. The handful of people who have successfully raised some from hatching have had hundreds of eggs laid, and only gotten a handful or two of babies actually to land. So that's hard too, to lose so many. They go through several molts in their aquatic phase, and eventually get to the point where they're ready for land. They are TINY when they get to land!! Like, the size of my pinky fingernail, which is smaller than most people's. You have to have teeny tiny little shells for them to get into, and food that they can eat. They'll continue molting & growing, but they stay tiny for a very long time. To put it in perspective, even small hermit crabs are probably 5-6 years old, I think. It can be really hard to say age for definite because they can grow at different rates depending on the individual, food available, how often they molt, etc. They molt more often when they're smaller & slow down as they grow.

If you guys want to check out pictures & read more details from those who have been successful, there are several pinned threads at the top of this forum section on my crab forum - http://www.hermitcrabassociation.com...4a642b1bc7f402 I believe Curlz just had one baby successfully make it to land & through a couple land molts this year. The teeny babies are absolutely adorable!!
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Old 10-19-2015, 09:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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What a cutie. She must be thrilled to see so many options for a new home! It's always wonderful to see animals flourish after you've brought them in.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Poor thing just wanted some new clothes!!!
Can't help but wonder if there is a safe alternative to their natural shells. Yes in nature they seem to be opportunist and use trash items if a suitable shell isn't available.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have two hermits too! Just curious where did you get your shells?
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Old 10-19-2015, 01:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Not as far as I know, Twobytwo, at least not yet. :/ Glass isn't good due to being clear, and could be dangerous since crabs are good at falling off tall things. 3D printing might turn up something usable, but the main issue is crabs will generally modify shells to fit them comfortably, which could be difficult or impossible with artificial shells.

Hermithog - I'll double check when I get home (on from phone atm), but I think the turbos were from Naples Seashell Company's website and/or from The Hermit Crab Patch. My smaller shells I got from craft stores, but it's harder to find suitable larger shells there. So I splurged on those to give my medium guy, Boromir, more choices. Glad I did now! I may end up ordering more around Christmas when I have to move everyone to the new tank when I move to an apartment.
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Old 10-19-2015, 02:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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3D printed hermit shells would be interesting. I don't see why it couldn't be done with a softer material. We're already in the process of 3D printing limbs for amputees
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah, I feel like it'd be possible! I'm just not sure what kind of materials are able to be used by 3D printers, and what would be safe for hermit crabs.

Hermithog - I did get most of the turbo shells, including the one Shelob chose, from Naples. They were the tapestry turbos, which are popular with PPs (purple pinchers, the most common hermit crabs kept as pets). http://naplesseashellcompany.com/her..._openings.html I also got a few from HCP, but I don't recall which ones. http://www.hermitcrabpatch.com/Pet-H...Shells-s/7.htm

I think I'll be putting together another shell order for the crabbies' Christmas present! Not sure if I'll order from those sites again or check out some others, but I would definitely recommend both sites.
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